What does it sound like?:
Let’s start with Teenage Fanclub. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart stand in relationship to that moment in the early eighties when new wave went pop, as the Fannies do to the jangly Rickenbacker-toters of the late sixties and early seventies. If seeing Echo and The Bunnymen and The Psychedelic Furs on Top of the Pops floated your boat, at that precise point when ‘added a sytnh’ and got a big name producer, then you will be right at home here. In a piece of serendipity I was listening to this straight after wishing that The Comsat Angels’ Jive albums (a perfect example of the new wave goes pop moment in all its conflicted mess) were still available, as ‘Stay Tonight’ is from my memory of it from thirty years ago exactly what we are talking about here.
The musical mix is propulsive drums, jangly guitars and a synth cutting through with a sweet melody line. For eight tracks the tempo is upbeat, and the choruses are so perfect they seem not so much to have been composed as unearthed from the unheard soundtrack to the Ferris Bueller sequel. On a track such as ‘The Garret’ (a perfect Bunnymen title) the guitars are a little more to the fore, on ‘The Cure for Death’ it’s a pure synth pop rush. Female co-vocals are also bang on trend.
Then the last track slows things right down, to take us into oh, Dream Academy or Black territory let’s say. It’s just as good, but is curiously placed as the album finale. The lyrics seem to say that there’s something a bit juvenile about all this ‘When I Dance With You’ stuff, and that relationships and growing up are maybe where it’s at. You can’t stay in this moment forever, or even the growing pains of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
What does it all *mean*?
It’s not going to convince anyone who doesn’t check into this genre to start. But at under forty minutes and nine tracks it doesn’t outstay its welcome at all. And, just as the Fannies are so good at their stuff, are the Pains not better at this than the originals were?
Goes well with…
A John Hughes movie, vintage Top of the Pops, back-combed hair
Might suit people who like…
4 minute songs. Just the transitions from verse/chorus/middle eight/coda are so beautifully wrought it works as an exercise in writing if nothing else.